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article imageSaudi's turn to Twitter for 'revolution'

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By Greta McClain     Oct 21, 2012 in Internet
It is not exactly the Arab Spring that many countries in the middle east have experienced over the last couple of years, but a form of revolution is growing in popularity as Saudi's turn to Twitter to voice their criticism of the royal family.
Open criticism of the government and the royal family has long since been considered taboo in Saudi Arabia. Over the last several months however, criticism of the royal family and other topics has become commonplace. According to an Economic Times report, the king has come under attack and prominent lawyers and judges are posting fierce criticisms about social neglect and large-scale corruption within the government. Clerics are also posting their views, as are Saudi women upset with the cleric's who "limit their freedoms".
An anonymous Twitter account user known as @mujtahidd has been posting information regarding the "internal workings and private scandals" of the Saudi royal family for the past year. An Albawaba report calls the postings "the Saudi Arabian WikiLeaks".
There are approximately 2.9 million twitter users in Saudi Arabia according to a New York Times report, and @mujtahidd has nearly 700,000
A Twitter post by  @ Mujtahidd
A Twitter post by @ Mujtahidd
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followers. On Oct 13th, he made several tweets outlining the thought processes and various succession plans made by senior royal family members for when King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud leaves the throne. The question of who will succeed the king has been on the mind of Saudi's and the international community because of the role the country plays in the region.
Twitter allows @mujtahidd and other Saudi's to cross social boundaries and discuss subjects in that were once off limits, collectively and in real time. Saudi authorities seem to have become resigned to the fact that not much can be done about the growing trend, thus allowing Twitter users to post under their real names.
According to the Economic Times report, Faisal Abdullah, a 31 year-old lawyer, stated: "Twitter for us is like a parliament, but not the kind of parliament that exists in this region,. It's a true parliament, where people from all political sides meet and speak freely."
Cleric Salman al-Awda, who was jailed for several years in the 1990s for his attacks on the government, said:
"Twitter has revealed a great frustration and a popular refusal of the current situation. There is a complete gap between the rulers and the ruled. Even those who are in charge of security do not know what the people really think, and this is not good."
An AFP report earlier this month says Twitter is even being used as a platform for Saudi's to express their displeasure over the rising price of poultry in the country. "Let it Rot" and "Poultry Boycott" are two of the the campaigns that sprang up on Twitter after the price of chicken began to rise. Both campaigns urged Saudis to stop buying chicken.
Since protests are banned in Saudi Arabia, Twitter appears to be a logical alternative for Saudi citizens to voice their opinions, and have those opinions heard by Saudi authorities. The New York Times quotes Abdullah as saying:
“This is increasing the culture of rights here. And it matters. Yesterday, I wrote a tweet about the court system, accusing the judges of arrogance. The judiciary minister himself called me to talk about it. So you see, they read it.”
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More about Twitter, Saudi arabia, Social network, Royal family, Middle East
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